The U.S. – Pakistan Defense Consultative Group (DCG), met Sept. 15-18 in Washington, D.C. The meeting was co-chaired by U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith and Pakistani Defense Secretary retired Lt. Gen.Hamid Nawaz Khan.
The U.S. defense relationship is a critical element of the Global War on Terrorism, and key to the security and stability of South Asia. The DCG continues to serve as a primary forum for exchanging ideas and coordinating policies regarding the war on terrorism and the other defense and security issues affecting the U.S.-Pakistani relationship.
Last week’s meetings of the DCG, the 15th in the series and the first in Washington, D.C. in nearly six years, continued a tradition of open, broad-ranging and practical discussions, and further strengthened bonds of mutual friendship and respect between our countries. The DCG met with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who discussed U.S.-Pakistani defense cooperation, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
The DCG working groups met for two days to review the progress of defense cooperation between the two countries, and to identify and plan activities for the future.
The Military Cooperative Consultations group agreed to a schedule of military-to-military exercises and training activities for the balance of 2003 and into 2004. This program will broaden and deepen existing bilateral military cooperation, and provide new opportunities to gain greater interoperability and familiarization.
The delegations received an update from the DCG’s Counter-Terrorism Working Group established at last year’s DCG meeting in Islamabad. That group discussed how the U.S. military can assist Pakistan in improving its capabilities to operate against Taliban and Al Qaeda. The U.S. supports Pakistan’s efforts to enhance its capabilities, particularly in the Northwest Frontier Province and federally-administered tribal areas, and agrees to address Pakistan’s requirements as a priority.
The Security Assistance Working Group discussed issues relating to procurement of U.S. military equipment under the Foreign Military Financing program, including:
- weapons systems and related support;
- repair/upgrade of existing systems;
- licenses for the import of spares; and
- the resolution of other outstanding issues.
The group reviewed defensive systems to improve Pakistan’s conventional capabilities, Pakistani equipment priorities, and measures and conditions for a long-term, sustainable defense cooperation relationship. The U.S. confirmed its commitment to resolve security assistance issues expeditiously, and to provide information to Pakistan on the availability of new weapons and systems as soon as possible. Ensuring interoperability of weapons systems, tactics, techniques, and procedures between the two militaries remains a high priority.
The delegations also reviewed the substantial economic and security assistance the U.S. has provided to Pakistan during the past year. This has included funding for support of Pakistani economic, political and educational reform programs, debt relief, over $224 million dollars in foreign military financing, and $1 million in international military education and training funds. The delegations conducted initial discussions on the military sales component of the U.S. $3 billion multi-year assistance program for Pakistan announced by Presidents Bush and Musharraf at Camp David in June 2003. The delegations also discussed Pakistan’s interest in increased funding for the annual foreign military finance program.
The delegations received reviews of the Counter-Terrorism Working Group and Security Assistance Working Group proceedings. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca, detailed U.S. South Asia policy, and Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Lincoln Bloomfield, reviewed U.S. conventional arms sales policies, as well as the multi-year assistance package offered to Pakistan. The two sides discussed the war on terrorism, particularly operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda forces in the border areas.
The U.S. delegation expressed appreciation for Pakistan's assistance in counter-terrorism operations, and noted its regret at the August friendly-fire incident in which two Pakistani soldiers were killed. The delegations exchanged views on Iraq, and on ways and means to stabilize the situation there.
The Pakistani side provided a wide-ranging briefing on regional security issues, including the challenges Pakistan faces in suppressing terrorist elements, and the continuing security challenges posed by India. The U.S. side made a presentation on the current situation within Afghanistan. The presentations and discussions offered new opportunities for both sides to understand each other’s views on regional security and defense issues.
The sides agreed to institute formal security assistance reviews on a semi-annual basis. The U.S. side offered to consider measures to highlight more effectively the Pakistani contributions to the Global War on Terrorism, especially before the U.S. Congress. The U.S. said that it would take Pakistani requests for consideration of additional security assistance under advisement, particularly Pakistan’s request to maintain its conventional capabilities, and enhance its counter-terrorism capabilities.
The U.S. affirmed its commitment to expedite security assistance obligations to Pakistan (especially equipment requests and deliveries), and to identify ways to further streamline procedures. The U.S. side agreed to investigate ways to assist Pakistan to dispose of obsolete U.S.-origin equipment in storage in Pakistan.
In sum, the 2003 DCG meetings were substantive, cordial, useful, and remain an important forum for the developing relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. Priorities were reviewed, requirements established, and steps delineated for addressing important bilateral policy and resource issues. The sides agreed that the DCG continues to contribute to sustaining the momentum in the bilateral relationship. The co-chairs agreed that the DCG will hold its next meeting in Islamabad in the fall of 2004, but would consider re-convening sooner if circumstances warranted.